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Hebrews 9:9

ESV (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
NIV This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.
NASB which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,
CSB This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper's conscience.
NLT This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them.
KJV Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

What does Hebrews 9:9 mean?

In this passage, the writer of Hebrews has listed several components of the temple. These rooms and artifacts were used under the old covenant as priests made sacrifices to God. The purpose of this description is to show how these components were meant to be symbolic. Rather than being God's final plan, those items were intended to point the way to God's true final solution for our sin, which was Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:6–7). In the prior verse, the writer pointed out that the two rooms of the temple, each separated from the people by a curtain, were symbolic of the old covenant's inability to offer man free access to God.

Here, the writer makes a comment about how this arrangement—man separated from God, with the path to the holy places closed off—is symbolic of the "present age." This terminology is intended to be taken from the perspective of "past as present." In other words, speaking as those who were functioning under this law since Moses, the writer indicates that the symbolic separation is related to this very process of priests and sacrifices and curtained rooms. When Jesus was crucified, this temple veil was torn—literally—and the separation between man and God was eliminated (Matthew 27:50–51).

Along those lines, the writer returns to the idea that the sacrifices offered under this old covenant are purely external. Physical rituals can soothe the conscience of the participant (1 Peter 3:21), but they cannot actually change it. In order to be changed, on the inside, something more than external ritual is required.
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